|
The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Fracking delays a hardship for regional residents

  • To Neil Vitale, royalties from a gas lease are just about the only thing that’s going to save his family’s 700-acre organic dairy farm in Woodhull.

    • email print
  • To Neil Vitale, royalties from a gas lease are just about the only thing that’s going to save his family’s 700-acre organic dairy farm in Woodhull.
    If and when the royalties start flowing, the biggest thing he’d do is upgrade his machinery to make his milking operation safer, more efficient and much less labor-intensive. The physical toll of farming left Vitale with bad knees, and his son does most of the work now.
    A lot of the barns and equipment on the Vitale farm are decades old. He hasn’t been able to replace them because they’re very expensive, and commodity prices haven’t kept up with inflation, he says.
    Aside from the machinery upgrades, drilling would help him pay New York’s sky-high property taxes. Actually, he says, the ad valorem tax revenues from drilling would likely bring his taxes down significantly.
    Vitale is a leader of the Steuben County Landowners Coalition and one of the area’s most outspoken advocates of the economic benefits of the shale gas boom.
    And he has a very personal stake.
    “The government has tried to keep the small family farm in existence. They know the importance of it,” Vitale said. “They’ve tried everything for the past 50 years to slow the decline. Nothing has worked. The only thing that has ever helped is when the petroleum industry comes in and provides the royalties and signing bonuses to small family farms. It keeps them vital.”

        calendar